As part of their 2019 Community Ambassador Programme, CIGNA- a global health services company, dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and peace of mind. CIGNA partnered with the African Institute for Health and Development (AIHD)-which is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Nairobi- to undertake an initiative dubbed “Be Beautiful, Be Healthy”. The aim of this initiative was to mobilize barbershops and salons in Nairobi, to aid in the delivery of health promotion and disease prevention messages on Non-Communicable Diseases specifically, hypertension and diabetes.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent a major public health problem. These diseases, mainly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases contribute to the majority of causes of death and constitute a major burden for socio-economic development especially in developing countries. The NCDs are chronic in nature and may have no cure; however, existing evidence indicates that these diseases are largely preventable by means of effective interventions. In addition, early detection and proper management of such diseases can reduce morbidity and premature death and may improve quality of life.
The key objectives of the Be Beautiful, Be Healthy initiative were:
- Mobilize a network of barbershops and beauty salons in Kenya to promote the Be Beautiful, Be Healthy Initiative;
- Share messages for the prevention and control of high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and obesity; and
- Conduct free screenings to the hairderessers,barbers and their customers to encourage early detection and encourage the practice of screening.
The Initiative was launched during a breakfast meeting on July 26,2019 at IBIS Style Hotel, Westlands. Key stakeholders present were drawn from the Government, civil society organization (CSOs), private sector, barbershops and saloons. The aim of the launch was to create awareness and buy-in among the stakeholders.
The target areas for the Initiative were; Kilimani, Westlands, Nairobi Central Business District (CBD), Kenyatta Market, Kariobangi Northand Umoja Market. Ten (10) clinical volunteers (nurses and nutritionists) were recruited, trained and dispatched to salons to conduct health talks on a daily basis. During implementation of this initiative, the AIHD and CIGNA partnered with The Aga khan University hospital and the Good life Pharmacies to offer onsite free medical checkups on Saturdays at the various Salons and barbershops.
The two organizations also partnered with the Nairobi County Health department – NCD unit to ensure sustainability and scale up of the Initiative. Additionally, the Unit acted as the point of referral to the patients who were found to have abnormal readings during the screening process, hypertension cases and diabetics, for treatment.